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The Van Horne Mansion was a classic greystone house in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. It was the home of Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, the man who built the Canadian Pacific Railway. Despite public outcry, the mansion was demolished in 1973. This lit a fire amongst conservationists, thus initiating the heritage conservation movement in Canada. Today, heritage conservation is an important part of city planning. But what tradeoffs can we afford as the housing crisis in cities across the country gets more dire? We’re telling the story of the Van Horne mansion and its legacy in heritage conservation, asking: Who decides what to preserve, and who are we preserving it for?

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